Northern Ireland's business community is not prepared for a no-deal Brexit, the managing director of one of its biggest US investors has warned.
John Healy, managing director of Allstate NI, who takes up the role of president of the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday, said businesses in the North urgently need clarity in relation to Brexit.
Mr Healy said Brexit was becoming an “ever more ominous threat”. Businesses in the North had been unable “to plan ahead for the year due to the ongoing political uncertainty at Westminster”, he said.
“It is now time to put political games to bed. As a business organisation, we want to see an outcome that’s best for businesses, for consumers, for the economy and for the future stability of Northern Ireland.
“Firms are still in the dark as to what trading conditions they will face. Neither the country nor businesses are prepared for a no-deal Brexit, so parliamentarians on all sides must redouble efforts to ensure that we don’t face this scenario by default.”
He also sent a stark message to local political leaders urging them to “get an Executive back as soon as possible to implement an economic strategy” for Northern Ireland against the backdrop of the uncertainty surrounding the Brexit negotiations. The chamber represents more than 1,200 businesses, employing more than 100,000 people.
Meanwhile the president of the Ulster Farmers' Union (UFU), Ivor Ferguson, has echoed Mr Healy's hopes that politicians will be able to agree a Brexit deal that works for Northern Ireland.
“The UFU has always made clear that what we want is free and frictionless trade. Farmers have consistently said a no-deal outcome would be unacceptable for the future of farming.
“We are uncomfortable when we are drawn into mainstream politics, but that is inescapable when the future of our farming industry is on the negotiating table,” Mr Ferguson said.